By Laura Allers-Lowry
I can’t say the subject of LED lighting has exactly brightened my life the way other topics in sustainability and event planning have. Not that I don’t believe in LED bulbs, use them myself, or support their use by others; I just never thought much about them beyond flipping the light switch.
Maybe you’re in the same mindset, and have decided to stop reading this article because it’s about LED lighting. Don’t go away yet! I’m here to “enlighten” you on some little known facts about our friend, the LED light.
First of all, I had no idea what the acronym “LED” meant. It stands for “light-emitting diode.” LED produces a glow more efficiently because it is one-directional lighting without heat, instead of light and heat going in all directions. (Remember burning your fingers or hands on a light bulb when you were a kid? Me, too.)
Oddly enough, for this reason, LED bulbs don’t burn out. Instead, they experience lumen depreciation, where the amount of light produced decreases, and the color appearance of the light shifts over time. This depreciation process can take as long as 20 years!
The most significant thing about LED lighting that catches my attention is the fact that it has made the word “watt” obsolete. The popular conception of the standard incandescent bulb is that the higher its wattage, the brighter it will be. That sounds nice, but is only a half-truth. The watt is actually a measurement of how much energy the bulb draws. So, the brighter the incandescent bulb, the more energy it uses, and the higher your electrical bill climbs – making the bulb less sustainable.
Here’s the bright idea behind LED lighting: The lumen (lm) is the real measurement of brightness provided by a light bulb, and this is the number we need to look for when shopping for LED lights. This makes LEDs more energy efficient, because an incandescent bulb can draw up to five times as many watts for the same number of lumens.
This is exactly what I needed to know to understand and appreciate LED technology! LED bulbs even come in several different colors, such as amber, red, green, and blue. Now I’m really impressed, and can count myself an official friend of LED lighting! If LED had a Facebook page (which it probably does), I would be the first to hit the “Like” button.
I am not alone in my LED fan club. Look on the Internet, and you’ll find conferences, symposiums, shows, and events for and about LED lighting, all over the world! There’s even a magazine specifically about LED lighting! Watt? (I mean, what?) A whole community of more sustainable lighting has been in existence right in front of my eyes, and I didn’t even know it? I guess I really have been living in the shadows when it comes to the incredible world of LED.
If you’ve gotten this far, I hope it means that you, too, have seen the light about the importance of LED technology.For the good of the planet, consider putting it to use in your own business and encourage the facilities and suppliers you work with to do the same! You’ll see the difference in your energy use and electrical bill… and you’ll have Mother Earth’s gratitude to boot.
Laura Allers-Lowry is event coordinator for St. Louis Earth Day, a nonprofit organization.